Seoul stocks inch down as buyers seek profits

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Seoul stocks inch down as buyers seek profits


Korea’s main bourse finished slightly lower Thursday, snapping a nine-day rally as institutional buyers offloaded large-cap shares, offsetting heavy buying by foreigners. The Korean won appreciated against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Kospi inched down 1.68 points, or 0.07 percent, to close at 2,307.35. Trade volume was light at 5.1 trillion won ($4.6 billion).

Institutions offloaded a net 321.5 billion won while foreigners purchased a net 222.3 billion won and individual investors bought a net 66.0 billion won.

The main index initially opened mildly higher, taking a cue from overnight Wall Street gains. Major U.S. indices moved upwards on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq reaching new highs in the latest session.

“The Kopsi started higher on overnight Wall Street gains,” said Seo Sang-young, a researcher at Kiwoom Securities, “and news that President Donald Trump signed a proclamation relieving Korea of steel export quotas to the United States.”

Profit taking by investors hoping to cash in on latest gains caused most large-cap shares to end bearish.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics added 1.82 percent to 47,650 won, while SK Hynix, a major chipmaker, fell 0.12 percent to end at 82,700 won.

Steel shares also finished bullish, with No. 1 steelmaker Posco moving up 0.3 percent to 332,500 won.

Cosmetic shares rose, with leading cosmetics firm Amorepacific adding 1.15 percent to 264,500 won on news that Beijing lifted bans on tour packages to Korea.

China had implemented travel restrictions to Korea last year as retaliation against Seoul’s decision to install U.S. anti-missile system Thaad. Cosmetics are one of the most popular products that Chinese tourists buy in Korea.

Shares of biopharmaceutical companies lost ground, with Samsung BioLogics, Samsung’s biopharmaceutical affiliate, losing 0.78 percent to end at 446,500 won. Celltrion was down 1.11 percent to 266,500 won.

The secondary Kosdaq gained 1.29 points, or 0.16 percent, to 804.47. The tech-heavy index ended higher for the second consecutive session, buoyed by a 1.0 percent rise of the U.S. Nasdaq and large institutional buying of IT shares.

The local currency closed at 1,108.6 won against the U.S. dollar, down 1.6 won from the last session’s close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, ended mixed. The yield on three-year bonds moved down 2.5 basis points to 1.98 percent, and the return on 10-year bonds moved up 0.5 basis points to 2.37 percent.

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